You know, we expected to hear about Johnny Depp‘s film career falling off a cliff. After all, that’s what this whole trial is all about — he’s suing ex Amber Heard for defamation, saying her op-ed accusing him of domestic abuse cost him millions.
But it turns out we’ve heard more about Amber’s film career. She has contended for a while now, including in her Washington Post piece, that going public with domestic violence allegations hurt her Hollywood prospects. That never really made sense to us as she actually got the DC superhero role of Mera after first going public — and that was by far her biggest step into the spotlight yet.
However, we’ve learned that her part in Aquaman 2 really was in danger of being ripped away by the undertow. The reason for it? Well, that’s the controversial part.
Obviously the 4.3 million fans who have signed the petition asking Warner Bros to fire Amber believe there’s substantial evidence that she abused Johnny Depp. Hollywood consultant Kathryn Arnold said in her testimony that Amber was right — it was Johnny’s legal team calling her accusations a “hoax” that changed things. She explained:
“They [Hollywood] like her work but they can’t work with her because every time her name is mentioned, the negativity flares up again.”
That much we think everyone can agree on. Well, almost everyone.
WB exec Walter Hamada confirmed Amber was almost recast in the sequel, though in his testimony — which was recorded last year but played for the courtroom on Tuesday — he said it was due mostly to lack of chemistry with star Jason Momoa in the first film. Hamada explained:
“You know it when you see it, and the chemistry wasn’t there.”
He said the only reason it wasn’t a huge complaint by audiences was because director James Wan and his editor did a good job making it work with what they had in post-production:
“A good editor and filmmaker can pick the right takes, can pick the right moments.”
But Hamada testified that he thought there was no reason to make their jobs harder — and pushed to replace her with an actress with whom their star would have a more “natural chemistry.”
Well, we guess no one told Jason about that! According to Kathryn Arnold, it was Momoa and Wan who saved Amber’s job in the end! Arnold testified on Monday that while some studio execs were ready to can her, it was her co-star and director who were “committed to her.” We should note, we are going on Arnold’s word here. The normally outspoken Jason Momoa has not come out swinging in his leading lady’s defense. In fact, he started following Johnny Depp on Instagram recently — causing quite a few eyebrow raises around town.
Still, Arnold claims Momoa and Wan were “adamant” she stay in the film. Not so adamant that they fought for her to get the raise Momoa got, however! Arnold spilled the tea when it came to salaries, saying the Game of Thrones alum got a big bump up from $3 million to $15 mil for the second film. Makes sense considering the first one performed beyond Warner Bros’ expectations, earning over a BILLION at the box office, far more than Batman v Superman, Justice League, or even Wonder Woman. But Amber had to keep her same $2 million salary.
While Arnold argued she should have been bumped up to $6 mil, that only makes sense if she had a similarly large role as in the first movie, where she’s the female lead and number 2 on the call sheet. According to what we’ve heard her role was cut down quite a bit. In fact, Arnold herself gave some deets she maybe shouldn’t have about just that — spilling some potential spoilers for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. She said in the first draft of the script Amber read, her character Mera had a “strong romantic arc” and “some great action sequences.” In later versions it was “radically reduced.”
“She ends up in the hospital early in this new Aquaman 2 movie and doesn’t really come out until the end to kind of wrap things up. All the interactions with Momoa’s character, and certainly the action scenes, were taken out.”
Arnold wasn’t specific, but she did spill one detail, saying that maybe Princess Mera was in the hospital because she was “injured” or maybe “it had something to do with a baby.”
So is she pregnant with Aquaman’s child? It apparently happens in the comics, so it would make sense! But for the female lead to get sidelined from being a superhero action star to being in the hospital taking care of her baby? Pretty disappointing.
The question remains why she got the shaft. Is it because of a “smear campaign”? Is it a fair reaction to the evidence that’s come out so far? What do YOU think??
[Image via Warner Bros/HBO Max.]